Sexual Function, Contraception, Relationship, and Lifestyle in Female Medical Students

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Feb;26(2):169-177. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2015.5731. Epub 2016 Sep 30.


Background: We undertook to study possible determinants of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) in a large cohort of female medical students from German-speaking countries.

Methods: We conducted an online questionnaire-based anonymous survey in a cohort of >2600 female medical students enrolled at German-speaking universities. The questionnaire comprised the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) plus additional questions regarding contraception, sexual activity, age, height, weight, lifestyle, activity at work, sexuality and emotional interaction with a steady partner, pregnancy history and plans, health problems, and self-acceptance. Data analysis employed descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate analyses, and standard nonparametric tests.

Results: Of the 2612 respondents aged ≤30 years included in the analysis (mean age [standard deviation], 23.5 [2.5] years), 38.7% of the overall cohort and 33.5% of the sexually active subcohort (91.8% of all students) were at risk for FSD (FSFI score <26.55). Multivariate analysis revealed the following significant factors to be associated with the FSFI: alcohol consumption, level of fitness, use of contraception, steady relationship, and self-acceptance (overall cohort and sexually active subcohort); smoking (overall cohort only); and body mass index and activity at work (sexually active subcohort only).

Conclusions: Almost 40% of German-speaking female medical students are at risk for FSD. Contraception, smoking, alcohol, steady relationship, physical fitness, and self-acceptance are significantly associated with the FSFI total score. Being in a steady relationship, better physical fitness, higher activity at work, and subjectively positive self-acceptance, in particular, are associated with higher FSFI total scores, that is, with less risk for sexual dysfunction.

Keywords: contraception; female sexual dysfunction; female sexual function index; libido; online survey.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Austria
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Libido
  • Life Style*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive History
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland
  • Young Adult